Late plea calls off murder trial
Defendant pleads to manslaughter, aggravated assault
A Marion man charged with first-degree murder struck a plea deal Monday, a day before his trial was to begin.
At what had been scheduled as a final pretrial hearing, Robert B. Mans, 50, and prosecutors for the state attorney general’s office filed an agreement in which Mans pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and aggravated battery.
Under the plea agreement, both the attorney general’s prosecutors and Mans will ask for a standard sentence instead of a departure that could increase or decrease his sentence.
They also agreed to consecutive sentencing for the two counts.
Depending on his criminal history, state sentencing guidelines suggest Mans’ sentence could range from as little as 14 years, 3 months to as much as 32 years, 10 months in prison.
Mans agreed prosecutors could use the following information as facts in the case:
- That he knowingly killed Shalan Niccole Gannon upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.
- That he caused great bodily harm to Gannon.
Mans was ordered to register as a violent offender.
He is scheduled to be sentenced May 23.
Gannon, 27, was reported missing in Wichita two months before her body was discovered June 7, 2020, inside a black box in the Nennescah River.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in court, Mans met Gannon when both lived at Liberty Way, a sober living community in Wichita. They said they wanted to move in together but instead moved out of the complex April 8, 2020.
Gannon’s cell phone was last used April 8, 2020. Mans’ phone was used the following day from an area around 1941 Narrow Rd. in Canada. That is the address of Mans’ stepbrother, Jason Kirkby, and stepfather, Michael Kirkby. Both men earlier agreed to testify against Mans in return for a reduction in charges against them.
They had been charged with charged with obstructing apprehension or arrest, interference with law enforcement, and criminal desecration of a body. Under their agreement, the first two charges would be dismissed. Michael Kirkby died in December.
Authorities searched the property five days after Gannon’s body was found. Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents found what appeared to be blood stains and a clump of human hair.
Mans was arrested and charged with murder six months later.
According to Kansas Department of Corrections records, Mans was sentenced March 19, 1992, in Sedgwick County District court for two counts of burglary and for single counts of aggravated robbery and theft. He later was sentenced June 17, 2010, for theft.
Mans was paroled to Marion County in 2004 but returned to prison a year later because of a parole violation. He was paroled to Marion County again in 2009 and went back to prison 1½ years later because of a parole violation.